Alert! This chapter may be affected by an emergency rule:
DCF 251.05(4)(L) (L) Child care workers shall be free of non-classroom duties when they are counted in meeting the staff-to-child ratios.
DCF 251.05(4)(m) (m) Children of staff who attend the center and who are on the premises for supervision and care shall be included in determining group size and staff-to-child ratios.
DCF 251.05 History History: Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493, eff. 8-1-97; reprinted to correct error in Table, Register, February, 1997, No. 494; reprinted to correct error in Table, Register, March, 1997, No. 495; CR 03-052: r. and recr. (title), (1) (a), (1) (j) 3., (2) (c) 3. to 7., am. (1) (b) 3. b., (c) 5. (intro.), Table 46.05-A, (6) (intro.), Table 46.05-B, (d) 3., Table 46.05-C, (2) (a) (intro.), 3., 6., 8., 11., (4) (e) (intro.) and 1., r. (1) (c) 5. a. to i. and 6. a. to f., (1) (d) 3. a. to i., renum. (1) (j) 4. to be 5., cr. (1) (j) 4. a. and b., (2) (a) 12., (2) (c) 8. to 10., (3) (g) Register December 2004 No. 588, eff. 3-1-05; corrections in (1) (j) 1. a., 3., (2) (a) 2. and 3. made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 7., Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635; CR 07-102: r. and recr. (1), am. (2) (a), 9., (3) (b), (c), (f), (4) (d), (j) and Table D, cr. (2) (a) 13., 14., (3) (h) and (i), r. (2) (c) 6. and 10. Register December 2008 No. 636, eff. 1-1-09; renumbering in (1) (e) 4. and corrections in (1) (e) 4. d., 5. d., (L) 3., (4) (j) and Table D made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 1., 6. and 7., Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635.
DCF 251.06 DCF 251.06Physical plant and equipment.
DCF 251.06(1)(1)Building.
DCF 251.06(1)(a)(a) The building in which a center is located shall comply with applicable state and local building codes. The licensee shall maintain a report of inspection of the building, which specifies that the building meets the applicable Wisconsin commercial building codes for use as a group child care center.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Inspections can be obtained from a commercial building inspector certified by the Department of Safety and Professional Services in accordance with ch. SPS 305, “Licenses, Certifications, and Registration," or a Wisconsin architect registered in accordance with chapter A-E 3, Architect Registration, or a Wisconsin engineer registered in accordance with chapter A-E 4, Professional Engineer Registration.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Local authorities should be consulted to obtain any required zoning clearances or building permits.
DCF 251.06(1)(b) (b) The department shall be given written notice of proposed construction, remodeling of existing space or change in rooms to be used by children prior to the initiation of the changes.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Alterations, additions or changes of use to commercial buildings may require submittal of plans to and approval by the Department of Safety and Professional Services or its agent before commencing construction. It is recommended that an architect or engineer be consulted prior to the beginning of any construction to determine whether plans must be submitted. When a center chooses to prepare meals on the premises after the initial building inspection has been completed, a new inspection may be necessary to ensure that the applicable commercial building codes related to kitchens have been met.
DCF 251.06(1)(c) (c) Space designated for use by children may only be used by children and staff and may not be used for other purposes while the center is open.
DCF 251.06(1)(d) (d) The inside temperature may not be less than 67°F.
DCF 251.06(1)(e) (e) If the inside temperature exceeds 80°F., the licensee shall provide for air circulation with fans or by other means.
DCF 251.06(2) (2)Protective measures.
DCF 251.06(2)(a)(a) The indoor and outdoor premises shall be free of hazards including any recalled products.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Lists of recalled products are available on the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection website at or by contacting the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (US CPSC) at 1-800-638-2772.
DCF 251.06(2)(b) (b) Steam radiators, fireplaces, wood burning stoves, electric fans, electric outlets, electrical heating units and hot surfaces, such as pipes, shall be protected by screens or guards so that children cannot touch them.
DCF 251.06(2)(c) (c) Firearms, ammunition and other potentially dangerous items may not be kept on the premises.
DCF 251.06(2)(d) (d) Materials harmful to children, including power tools, flammable or combustible materials, insecticides, matches, drugs and other articles hazardous or poisonous to children shall be in properly marked containers and stored in areas inaccessible to children.
DCF 251.06(2)(e) (e) A motor vehicle shall be immediately available at the center at all times in case of an emergency if a public or private rescue or emergency vehicle cannot arrive at the center within 10 minutes of a phone call.
DCF 251.06(2)(f) (f) The center shall have a working telephone or access to a working telephone on the premises during hours of operation, with a list of emergency telephone numbers, including telephone numbers for the local rescue squad, fire department, police department or other law enforcement agency, poison control center and emergency medical service posted near each telephone. In this paragraph, “telephone" does not include a pay telephone requiring payment to reach the operator or a telephone in a locked room.
DCF 251.06(2)(g) (g) Stairs, walks, ramps and porches shall be maintained in a safe condition and free from the accumulation of water, ice or snow.
DCF 251.06(2)(h) (h) Smoking is prohibited on the premises of the center when the children are present.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: See s. DCF 251.03 (25) for the definition of premises.
DCF 251.06(2)(i) (i) A licensee, employee, volunteer or other individual in contact with children may not consume alcoholic beverages or any non-prescribed controlled substance specified in ch. 961, Stats., on the premises of the center or be under the influence of any alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substance, during the hours of the center's operation.
DCF 251.06(2)(j) (j) Children may not be allowed in an area where power tools are in use.
DCF 251.06(2)(k) (k) A hot tub located in a room or area accessible to children shall have a visible, locked, rigid cover or be enclosed by a locked fence at least 4 feet tall. The lock shall be installed so that the lock is inaccessible to children.
DCF 251.06(2)(L) (L) If a hot tub is located in a room or area not intended for use by children, access to the room or area shall be controlled through the use of a visibly locked door. The lock shall be installed so that the lock is inaccessible to children.
DCF 251.06(3) (3)Emergencies. Each center shall have a written plan for responding to a fire, a tornado, a tornado warning, a missing child or other emergency. A center shall do all of the following:
DCF 251.06(3)(a) (a) Post the fire evacuation and tornado plan and practice implementing the fire evacuation plan monthly. Tornado drills shall be conducted monthly from April through October.
DCF 251.06(3)(b) (b) Make sure that all staff members know what their duties are if there is a fire, tornado, tornado warning, missing child or other emergency.
DCF 251.06(3)(c) (c) Keep a written record of dates and times of all fire and tornado drills practiced.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: The licensee may use the department's form, Fire, Safety and Emergency Response Documentation — Group Child Care Centers, to record dates and times of the monthly fire or tornado practice. Information on how to obtain the department's form is available on the department's website,, or from any regional licensing office in Appendix A.
DCF 251.06(4) (4)Fire protection.
DCF 251.06(4)(a)(a) Each fire extinguisher on the premises of a center shall be operable at all times, inspected once a year by a qualified person and bear a label indicating its present condition and date of the last inspection.
DCF 251.06(4)(b) (b) All staff members shall be instructed in and knowledgeable about the use of the fire extinguishers.
DCF 251.06(4)(c) (c) Each floor used by children shall have at least 2 exits.
DCF 251.06(4)(d) (d) Exits and exit passageways shall have a minimum clear width of 3 feet and be unobstructed by furniture or other objects.
DCF 251.06(4)(e) (e) An extension cord may not be used permanently with an appliance.
DCF 251.06(4)(f) (f) No more than 2 electrical appliances may be plugged into any one wall outlet.
DCF 251.06(4)(g) (g) The door to the basement and furnace room shall be closed.
DCF 251.06(4)(h) (h) Areas under stairs may not be used for storage.
DCF 251.06(4)(i) (i) All exit lights shall be lit at all times.
DCF 251.06(4)(j) (j) Fire alarms, alarm systems and smoke detectors shall be maintained in good working order. Fire alarms and smoke detectors shall be used to conduct monthly fire evacuation drills. Fire alarms and smoke detectors shall be tested weekly and a record kept of the test results.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: The licensee may use the department's form, Fire, Safety, and Emergency Response Documentation — Group Child Care Centers, to document the results of the weekly testing of fire alarms and smoke detectors. Information on how to obtain the department's form is available on the department's website,, or from any regional licensing office in Appendix A.
DCF 251.06(4)(k) (k) Unvented gas, oil or kerosene space heaters are prohibited.
DCF 251.06(5) (5)Sanitation.
DCF 251.06(5)(a)(a) The premises shall be free from litter, clean and in good repair.
DCF 251.06(5)(b)1.1. There shall be no flaking or deteriorating paint on exterior or interior surfaces in areas accessible to children.
DCF 251.06(5)(b)2. 2. No lead-based paint or other toxic finishing material may be used.
DCF 251.06(5)(c) (c) Garbage containers in the building shall be rigid, covered, watertight and emptied daily or more often as needed. Compactors need not be emptied daily. Garbage and refuse stored out of doors shall be kept in leak-proof containers equipped with tight-fitting covers and shall be disposed of as necessary to prevent decomposition or overflow.
DCF 251.06(5)(d) (d) Furnishings, toys, cots and other equipment shall be washed or cleaned when they become soiled. Eating surfaces shall be washed and sanitized before and after each use.
DCF 251.06(5)(e)1.1. Toilet rooms and fixtures shall be in a sanitary condition at all times.
DCF 251.06(5)(e)2. 2. Potty chair receptacles shall be emptied and rinsed and the potty chair and receptacle shall be disinfected immediately after each use with a chlorine bleach solution of one tablespoon to one quart of water, made fresh daily.
DCF 251.06(5)(f) (f) Windows and doors that are used for ventilation shall be screened.
DCF 251.06(5)(g) (g) The premises shall be maintained to prevent the entrance or harborage of vermin.
DCF 251.06(6) (6)Water.
DCF 251.06(6)(a)(a) A safe supply of drinking water shall be available to children at all times from a drinking fountain of the angle jet type or by use of disposable cups. Common use of drinking cups is prohibited.
DCF 251.06(6)(b) (b) If the center gets its water from a private well, the following shall apply:
DCF 251.06(6)(b)1. 1. Water samples from the well shall be tested annually for lead and bacteria by a laboratory certified under ch. ATCP 77. The laboratory report shall be available to the department upon request.
DCF 251.06(6)(b)2. 2. A center serving children under 6 months of age shall have the water tested annually for nitrate levels.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Section NR 809.11 sets the maximum allowable level of nitrate-nitrogen in public drinking water at 10 milligrams per liter (10 parts per million).
DCF 251.06(6)(b)3. 3. If water test results indicate the water contains high levels of lead or is bacteriologically unsafe, the water shall be appropriately treated and re-tested until it is determined to be safe. Bottled water shall be used until the water is determined to be safe. If the water tests above the maximum allowable level of nitrates, bottled water shall be used for infants under 6 months of age.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Centers using a private well that serves at least 25 of the same people over 6 months of the year are considered to have a non-transient non community water system (NTNC) and must be in compliance with Chapter NR 809, Safe Drinking Water Act Standards. Contact the nearest Department of Natural Resources from the list at:
DCF 251.06(7) (7)Indoor space.
DCF 251.06(7)(a)(a) The space used by children shall be no less than 35 square feet of usable floor space for each child, exclusive of passageways, kitchens, bathrooms, coat storage areas, offices, storage areas, isolation quarters, staff room, furnace room, parts of rooms occupied by stationary equipment, and areas not at all times available to children, including areas used exclusively for large muscle activity, napping or eating.
DCF 251.06(7)(b) (b) There shall be additional storage space for cots, bedding, supplies and equipment not in use.
DCF 251.06(8) (8)Furnishings.
DCF 251.06(8)(a)(a) Furnishings shall be durable and safe, with no sharp, rough, loose or pointed edges.
DCF 251.06(8)(b) (b) Tables and seating shall be scaled to the proper height and size for the children's comfort and reach.
DCF 251.06(8)(c)1.1. Except as provided in subd. 2., in a center where meals are served, seating shall be at least equal to the licensed capacity of the center, excluding infants, so that the children can be served at the same time, and there shall be space at a table for each child.
DCF 251.06(8)(c)2. 2. In a center where meals are served in a central lunchroom, seating and tablespace shall be at least equal to the number of children to be served in a shift.
DCF 251.06(8)(d) (d) Shelves shall be provided for equipment and supplies in rooms used by children. Equipment and supplies shall be arranged in an orderly fashion so that children may select, use and replace items.
DCF 251.06(8)(e) (e) There shall be sufficient storage space for clothing and personal belongings to accommodate the clothing and personal belongings of as many children as are in the licensed capacity of the center. For children 2 years of age and older, the space for outer garment storage shall be at child level.
DCF 251.06(8)(f) (f) A safe, washable cot, bed, two-inch thick mat or sleeping bag shall be provided for each child 12 months old or older who naps or sleeps.
DCF 251.06(8)(g) (g) A safe, washable crib or playpen shall be provided for use of each child less than 12 months old who naps or sleeps. A crib or playpen shall be washed and disinfected between changes in occupancy.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: See Appendix D for information on safe cribs and playpens.
DCF 251.06(9) (9)Kitchens.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)(a) Equipment and utensils.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)1.1. When meals are prepared or heated on the premises, the kitchen shall be equipped with a microwave or stove with an oven, a refrigerator, a sink and utensils that are necessary to prepare and serve meals. The sink shall be used exclusively for food preparation and dishwashing.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)1m. 1m. Centers preparing or serving only snacks are not required to have a sink unless dishes or utensils requiring dishwashing are used. Centers preparing or serving only snacks are not required to have a microwave or stove unless the snacks served require heating. Refrigerators are required if the center serves milk or other perishable snacks.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)2. 2. All equipment and utensils shall have smooth, hard surfaces, be easily cleanable, in good repair, durable, non-toxic and free of cracks, seams, chips and roughened areas, and shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)3. 3. Food preparation tables shall be durable, and surfaces shall be smooth, non-absorbent and easily cleanable.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)4. 4. After cleaning, utensils shall be stored in a clean, dry place and protected from contamination.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)5. 5. Single-service utensils shall be non-toxic, stored in a clean, dry place, kept covered, and may not be reused.
DCF 251.06(9)(a)6. 6. Infant bottles and nipples may not be reused without first being cleaned and sanitized.
Published under s. 35.93, Stats. Updated on the first day of each month. Entire code is always current. The Register date on each page is the date the chapter was last published.